Learn Node: Clustering hadron colliders and neutrino factories


Posted on 22nd January 2009 by Judy Breck in general science | physics

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This learn node about the future of particle physics is a webpage on the Interactions.org Particle Physics News and Resources website. The introduction to the page explains:

The Future
Particle physics has reached an extraordinary moment in the quest to understand the universe and its physical laws. Profound new questions have emerged to capture the human imagination. To address these questions, scientists all over the world are collaborating to imagine, design and build the particle physics of the future.

The page offers links to hadron colliders, linear colliders, neutrino factories and other key places where the where the work is being done to on the particle physics quest. The result is a learn node in an online open cluster that you can explore to learn about particle physics from the scientists and institutions who are participating in this extraordinary moment in the quest they leading.

Learn Node: Arctic Exploration knol


Posted on 21st January 2009 by Judy Breck in about learn nodes | history

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This learn node provides arctic exploration history, especially of the heroic age from the 1840s through early 1900s. The learn node is in the form of a Google knol that is the work of Professor Russell Potter of Rhode Island College. Topics include Norsemen, early explorers Martin Frobisher, Henry Hudson, John Ross, William Edward Parry, and John Franklin, for whom a search when he did not return from an encampment with relics and graves. Descriptions of the explorations that followed in later years feature Elisha Kent Kane, Charles Francis Hall, Adolphus Washington Freely, Roald Amundsen, and the Robert Peary adventurers.

This fascinating Google knol can be called a learn node because it provides links to excellent related nodes that are webpages in the open internet. The knol thus forms a small cluster in which a great deal can be learned about arctic explanation and from which further internet exploration of the subject can be launched.

Learn Node: Metropolitan Opera history review from the past


Posted on 12th January 2009 by Judy Breck in history | music

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This post republishes a review of the Metropolitan Opera’s “Met History” webpages that I wrote in 1998 for the HomeworkCentral.com Top 8 Newsletter. From 1997-2001, every week I reviewed five, and in later years eight, of the learning materials flooding into the internet. Most of those early nuggets of gold in the internet swamp remain online — often enhanced with new technology like the music delivery you will get by clicking the above image. Extensive database materials and a photo archive are now available. My 1998 review follows:

The majestic history of structures, seasons, and singers of New York City’s Metropolitan Opera fills these pages of the Met’s Website. Students of music history and biography will find this a unique resource. From the time it was founded in 1884, the Metropolitan has played a major artistic role New York and throughout the opera world. Contemporary photographs of the great singers in costume grace the pages of text describing specific performance, taking us back through the years to relish great music, grandly given. As Algernon St. John-Brennon wrote in 1915 in the New York Telegram: “The loveliness, the allurement, the seductiveness, the reverie, and the dream were in the glorious utterance of the singer. We cannot ask for more.”

Whooping Crane Chick #804 had a lot to say in the egg


Posted on 12th January 2009 by Judy Breck in animals | biology | ecology

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Journey North invites us to come online and Meet the 2008 Whooping Crane Chicks. For this post I have selected Crane #804, born May 9, 2008, shown in the two pictures with this post. Like all 2008 chicks, #804 was born in captivity because none of last year’s nests produced live young. The egg care givers report in their notes that:

This chick has huge personality. He already had a lot to say while still in the egg! Barb said, “When it was in the hatcher, we would check on the egg by making crane vocalizations to assess its strength and progress. Each time I did this, #4 just peeped and peeped and peeped. It was like a little girl who had her phone privileges taken away for a month and finally was able to talk on the phone again to her girlfriends. Chick #4 did this before hatching and also after being old enough to go to a pen.”

Read more about this chatty crane on #804’s personal page. It includes the explanation for the second picture above: “Bees were a problem at the refuge and 804 was stung. The bee sting made his beak get out of line, but it was soon back to normal.”

Chick #804’s page is part of Operation Migration, a remarkable project to reintroduce Whooping Cranes to their natural migration. The cranes, including #804, are now almost finished with their October 2008-January 2009 migration.

The virtual birth, life, and migration of Chick #804 is gold for learning within the internet swamp. A printed textbook and/or the most creative and exciting classroom work cannot provide the learning experience that a student gets by following Chick #804. This is not a substitute for education as we have known it. It is a marvelous phoenix of learning hatching in the swamp.

Learn node: The Triple Fool by John Donne


Posted on 12th January 2009 by Judy Breck in literature

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Scholars and sippers of poetry can find most any literary verse, ode, or rune with a click or two to marvelous online collections. None of these surpasses the work of Anniina Jokinen at her “labor of love” Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature. Click the image above to read John Donne’s The Triple Fool while enjoying an image from Vermeer to suggest its origin. You can hear the poem read by opening the audio clip.

The Luminarium has been a major resource for scholars and lovers of English literature since 1996. It is not a product of academia or educational publishers. With a few ads, a knowledgeable store, and a few friends for support, Luminarium is the creation of an individual 21st century literary devotee.

Learn node: Valkyrie, the July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler


Posted on 30th December 2008 by Judy Breck in biography | history

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This learn node connects to six excellent online sources for learning about the July 20, 1944 plot to assassinated Hitler. The learn node was stimulated by the movie Valkyrie, which is based on the actual people and events of the plot. The internet is a new way, in the 21st century, to quickly assemble information about events from virtually any place and any time. If your interest is aroused by seeing the movie — or are teaching or learning about the Nazi resistance — the following links will fill in the facts and characters.

There is a Claus von Stauffenberg biography at the Jewish Virtual Library and a book available at Amazon.com (in German) about Claus von Stauffenberg’s wife Nina Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg. The Wikipedia article on Claus von Stauffenberg is one of several subjects related to July 20, 1944 plot that are covered in Wikipedia. A BBC feature describes the events of July 20, 1944: Hitler survives assassination attempt. A BBC report at the time of the 60th anniversary memorial of the attempt to assassinate Hitler, recalls the events and persons involved. And, of course, the homepage of the movie Valkyrie, about the assassination plot provides dramatization of the places and times of the German resistance to Hitler and of the plot itself.

Learn Node: Electoral College process, history, problems, and opinions


Posted on 18th December 2008 by Judy Breck in history

This learn node clusters official, expert, and historical sources online that explain and explore the Electoral College process, history, problems, and opinions.

The National Archives provides a collection of Electoral College information for students, teachers, state officials, and interested citizens. From Professor Doug Linder’s series exploring Constitutional Law, is his extensive section Exploring Constitutional Conflicts: Should the Electoral College be abolished or modified? The Harper’s Weekly pages about Hayes vs. Tilden 1876-1877 include contemporary text and cartoons. From the Library of Congress is a Presidential Elections and the Electoral College collection relating to the Electoral College. History.com provides an overview of the origins and history of the Electoral College. As background for the establishment of the Electoral College, from Tufts University there is A New Nation Votes, a searchable collection of election returns from the earliest years of American democracy.

Learn node: Light echoes Tycho’s supernova that Brahe saw in 1572


Posted on 4th December 2008 by Judy Breck in astronomy | biography | general science | history | sciences

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This learn node is about Tycho’s supernova that Brahe saw Nov. 11, 1572. As Yahoo! News reports, Brahe was astonished to see what he thought was a brilliant new star in the constellation Cassiopeia. The light eventually became as bright as Venus and could be seen for two weeks in broad daylight. After 16 months, it disappeared.

BBC reports the 2008 discovery by Max Planck Institute scientists, using telescopes in Hawaii and Spain to capture faint light echoes of the original explosion — in effect capturing a fossil imprint of Tycho’s famous supernova. Wikipedia’s excellent article on Tycho’s Supernova for more background. NASA’s dictionary defines supernova and other relevant terms. The Galileo Project has a fine biography of Tycho Brahe. MIT’s open courseware offers instruction on the Plasma Physics that is a major focus for Tycho’s supernova.

Animated learn node: new technology explains dolphin kick power

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Posted on 1st December 2008 by Judy Breck in about learn nodes | animals | biography | biology | engineering | general science | math | mechanics | sciences


This learn node is centered in the 2008 discovery at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of how the dolphin kicks with huge power — something that has been a mystery called Gray’s Paradox. Six nodes emerge from the open internet in this animation, providing connected places to learn about dolphins and their power kick.

The center node takes you to the work of Timothy Wei, professor and acting dean of Rensselaer’s School of Engineering, to see how he has solved Gray’s Paradox using his new state-of-the-art water flow diagnostic technology — Digital Particle Image Velocimetry DPIV — that measures the force a dolphin generates with its tail. Other nodes are about DPIV, how the US Navy trains dolphins (a retired Navy dolphin stars in the Rensselear video), general dolphin information (from the San Diego Zoo), and open courseware from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine on marine mammal medicine including care of dolphins, who are cetaceans.

Learn node: new technology explains dolphin power kick


Posted on 24th November 2008 by Judy Breck in biology | engineering | sciences

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In this learn node the 2008 discovery of how the dolphin kicks with huge power is spotlighted at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where the discovery was made. For decades, scientists have puzzled over the sea mammal’s speed, since “Gray’s Paradox” was described, as the Rensselaer website explains:

There was something peculiar about dolphins that stumped prolific British zoologist Sir James Gray in 1936. He had observed the sea mammals swimming at a swift rate of more than 20 miles per hour, but his studies had concluded that the muscles of dolphins simply weren’t strong enough to support those kinds of speeds. The conundrum came to be known as “Gray’s Paradox.”

Timothy Wei, professor and acting dean of Rensselaer’s School of Engineering, has solved Gray’s Paradox using his new state-of-the-art water flow diagnostic technology that measures the force a dolphin generates with its tail. The image above is from a video that captures the action of the dolphin by using Digital Particle Image Velocimetry (DPIV). The dolphin performing in the video is Primo, who is retired from the U.S. Navy.

For background on these subjects, the San Diego Zoo has an excellent online dolphin section and the University of California Irvine School of Biological Sciences explains DPIV in great detail.